Colombo's anti-terror laws assist killings, abductions, torture- MRG

[TamilNet, Saturday, 15 December 2007, 19:32 GMT]
Minority Rights Groups International (MRG), an accredited non Governmental organization with the United Nations, in a report released Thursday said, after the promulgation of broad anti-terror laws in December 2006, Sri Lanka "has not hesitated to use these laws, and the country's human rights situation deteriorated. Under a general climate of impunity, 2007 has largely been marked by intense warfare, mass displacement, killings, abductions and torture in Sri Lanka."

"[C]ounter-terrorism laws are used to arrest and detail hundreds of Tamils, to cordon, search and harass minorities, and to create High Security Zones (HSZs) claiming vast areas of minority lands, thereby affecting livelihoods," the report said, giving credence to appeals by Muslims and Tamils that traditional lands, where their ancestors have lived for generations in the east, are being appropriated by Colombo under the rubric of HSZs.

Refugee children in East
(Photo: MRG Report)
The report said that government's continuing violations of human rights in the guise of "war on terror" deserves serious attention, despite the presence of several other types of violations.

The reported quoted UNHCR statement that nearly four months later [after the capture of the East], in November 2007, forcible return is continuing in the east with local authorities threatening to withdraw their assistance if people do not go back to their homes.

"But the human rights abuses do not end with forced return. They continue, deeply woven into the everyday lives of minority Tamils and Muslims in the east – carried out by government security forces in the name of fighting terrorism. Returnees are put through intense security measures and face routine checks by the Sri Lankan military. Large chunks of minority owned land have been blocked out as High Security Zones (HSZs) by the government. In Sampur, close to the north-eastern port city Trincomalee, the military has taken over a 35 square mile area of land, covering 15 villages, barring 15,000, mostly Tamil civilians, from their homes," the report said.

The report also accused the LTTE for being "responsible for widespread abuses including killings of opponents and child abductions. The LTTE also has a reputation for using civilians as human shields and obstructing civilians trying to flee battle zones," the report said.

On the freedom of press, the report said, "Counter-terrorism laws have also been used to threaten media organizations. In April 2007, alleging links with the Tigers, the government froze the assets of Standard Newspapers Private Limited, a newspaper company that runs a Sinhala and English weekly publication," the report added.

The report concluded with recommendations to the Government of Sri Lanka and to the militant groups



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